Forward Press has evolved over a period of time as a key resource and reference point for Dalitbahujan thinking and developing intellectual capital. Part of our efforts has been to throw light on the enlightened personalities in Indian history. The book in question, E.V. Ramasamy Periyar: Darshan-Chintan aur Sachchi Ramayan, is a collection of writings by E.V. Ramasamy Periyar, translated into Hindi for the north Indian readership. Apart from the philosophical thinking of Periyar – which undoubtedly remained the guiding principle of his life, work and struggle – this book also includes the Hindi translation of ‘Ramayana: A True Reading’, along with the historical judgement of the Supreme Court on the publication of an earlier Hindi translation.
Why reading Periyar is important
Periyar’s contribution to Tamil society is matchless. The father of the Dravidian movement was a rationalist, a social reformer, a political activist and, above all, an unabashed critic of Hinduism. He is perhaps the only one in modern India of his stature to publicly defy Hindu gods. This relentless fighter for justice and champion of the Self-Respect movement has gone almost unnoticed in the north Indian Hindi speaking belt. There has been a dearth of Hindi translations of his voluminous writings, where he critically articulated all forms of hegemony and injustice. Why did he question the notion of Aryan superiority? What did he find wrong with the North Indian dominance? Why was he against brahmanical nationalism? What was his view on the caste system and patriarchy? What had been his personal experiences?
What this book offers
This book offers a simplified yet accurate Hindi translation of Periyar’s original writings. The first section of the book comprises his selected writings that introduce the average Hindi reader to this thinker and philosopher. The reader would find instantly how Periyar’s thinking is in sync with the Shraman-Bahujan tradition.
The book opens with an introduction by V. Geetha, who is among the topmost experts on Periyar and his philosophy. With her study and experience of studying his philosophy and thought for over 35 years and as a feminist scholar, there cannot be anyone better to write the introduction. She is also the co-author of Towards a Non-Brahmin Millennium: From Iyothee Thass to Periyar (Samya, 2008).
The second section is on Periyar’s “Sachchi Ramayan”. After a detailed study of the various editions and versions of the Ramayan for more than 40 years, Periyar wrote a critical review of the characters in the Ramayan in Tamil under the title Ramayana Patirangal. This book, published in 1944, was one of the most controversial works of Periyar. He believed that the Ramayan was not a religious text, rather it was a political text to legitimize the dominance of North Indian Aryans over South Indian non-Aryan-Dravidians; and to justify Dwij dominance over non-Dwij castes and the dominance of men over women.
The English translation was published in 1959 under the title The Ramayan: A True Reading. We have included an accurate but eminently readable Hindi translation. We have also appended the historical judgment in which the Supreme Court ruled in favour of freedom of expression and revoked the Uttar Pradesh government’s ban on Sachchi Ramayan (translated by Ram Adhar and published by Lalai Singh Yadav).
In a supreme irony, the works of the chief antagonist of the imposition of Hindi on the south Indian states is now being translated into Hindi! Periyar would be pleased. We trust the Hindi reader and student will appreciate this selection of Periyar’s writings and the quality of the Hindi translation.
Title: E.V. Ramasamy Periyar: Darshan-Chintan aur Sachchi Ramayan
Introduction: V. Geetha
Publisher: Forward Press
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